Making it in America
Roanoke has been a key place for refugees and immigrants to make a new home for multiple decades, and the population continues to grow. Over the past year, the region has welcomed Afghans who narrowly escaped the Taliban. With more than 200 Afghans resettled in the Roanoke and New River Valleys after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. Blacksburg Refugee Partnership has played a key role in helping to resettle Afghan women military veterans and their families. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, area residents were able to bring family members from the war-torn nation to southwest Virginia under President Biden’s Uniting for Ukraine program. After spending decades in a Tanzanian refugee camp, a Congolese family learns to navigate the Roanoke City Public School system, as their children learn English and a new culture. More than 70 different languages are spoken by Roanoke City School students, and programs for English learners have expanded over the years.
This body of work shares the individual stories of newcomers to our region through visual journalism and has been my focus as a 2001 and 2002 fellow with The Secular Society, a Blacksburg-based nonprofit.